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Pope In Armenia: Prayer at Armenian Metz Yeghern memorial in Tzitzernakaberd

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Pope Francis participated in a prayer service at the Tzitzernakaberd Memorial to the Metz Yeghern, or ‘Great Evil’, in Armenia on Saturday morning, offering an intercessory prayer and extensive silent prayer for the dead. The ecumenical prayer service, held in memory of those fallen in the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire in 1915, consisted in the Our Father prayer, the reading of two Biblical passages (Heb 10,32-36 & John 14,1-13), and an intercessory prayer by Pope Francis.

Also present at the prayer service was a small group of descendants of the Armenian refugees whom Pope Pius XI hosted at the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo after the Metz Yeghern.

At the conclusion of the service, the Holy Father stopped briefly to bless and water a tree in remembrance of his visit to the Tzitzernakaberd Memorial.

Below, please find a Vatican Radio English translation of the Pope’s intercessory prayer:

Christ, who crowns your saints,
who fulfills the will of your faithful
and looks with love and tenderness upon your creatures,
hear us from your holy heavens,
by the intercession of the holy Generatrix of God
and by the prayer of your saints
and those whom we remember today.
Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy.
Forgive us, expiate and remit our sins.
Make us worthy to glorify you with thankful hearts,
together with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and forever. Amen.


CNS photo/Paul Haring

Statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office on the Orlando massacre

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The terrible massacre that has taken place in Orlando, with its dreadfully high number of innocent victims, has caused in Pope Francis, and in all of us, the deepest feelings of horror and condemnation, of pain and turmoil before this new manifestation of homicidal folly and senseless hatred. Pope Francis joins the families of the victims and all of the injured in prayer and in compassion. Sharing in their indescribable suffering he entrusts them to the Lord so they may find comfort. We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity.

Love as We Know It

Love As We Know It Promo

In light of the most recent exhortation by Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, Salt and Light TV wanted to remind people of what has been at the heart of the Church’s concern this past couple years, and that is the family. Salt and Light TV has been a part of this journey of the family with the Church, as Pope Francis called the Synods on the family and participated in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September of 2015. To better prepare ourselves and our viewers for these events, we brought together stories of families from Canada and the United States to see how families live out their vocation to married life and raising a family today. Now, these stories are given new life in a 3 part series called Love as We Know It.

 

Episode One: Called to Holiness
Premiere time: Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at 8 p.m. ET
Repeats:
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. ET
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. ET

 

Episode Two: Choosing Life
Premiere time: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 8 p.m. ET
Repeats:
Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. ET
Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. ET

 

Episode Three: Fatherhood
Premiere time: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 at 8 p.m. ET
Repeats:
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 12:00 a.m. ET
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. ET

Filming the World Meeting of Families videos, featured in this series, had a profound impact on many of us. Spending a day with a family, being invited into their homes and into their lives was a privilege. As a young Catholic still unmarried, I was especially grateful to have before me examples of couples who had made it through sometimes difficult situations, or challenging decisions. They emerged not only to have a better sense of who they were as a couple, but as a family. I can think of one family I had the opportunity of filming who was an encouragement to me: the Taylors.

They live in Erie, Pennsylvania; they have three daughters and one boy they adopted when he was just a couple years old. I won’t share with you here they’re whole story – I’ll simply encourage you to watch Love as We Know It! – but what struck me most. Despite the difficult decision to welcome a new child into their home and having to go through the tedious process required for an adoption, they did it together. Keith and Mary Jean talked about it over and over again with their daughters until it was made official. Everyone was a part of the journey. “To want to form a family is to resolve to be a part of God’s dream, to choose to dream with him, to want to build with him, to join him in this saga of building a world where no one will feel alone, unwanted or homeless” (Address of the Holy Father at the prayer vigil for the Festival of Families in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 26th, 2015). But this wasn’t a unique event in the life of their family. The Taylor home is open to everyone and have many times welcomed people who needed to rest, eat and play.

As the Holy Father’s post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia made its appearance in a long list of papal documents on the family, he reminded us once more that the ‘joy of love’ is the fruit of a family “strengthened by generosity, commitment, fidelity and patience” (AL 4). It came as a conclusion to what the Church has experienced for the past couple years – after calling two Synods on the family and supporting the 8th World Meeting of Families – and as a springboard for a renewed energy in caring for families all over the world.  

Love As We Know It Pic4

Why should particular attention be given to families? Pope Francis gave one answer several months ago to thousands gathered along the Benjamin Franklin parkway at the Festival of Families in Philadelphia, following the worldwide congress on the family: “God did not want to come into the world other than through a family. God did not want to draw near to humanity other than through a home. God did not want any other name for himself than Emmanuel (cf. Mt 1:23). He is ‘God with us’.” In the heart of the family is an opportunity to love: ourselves, God and our neighbour. Love as We Know It is really a compilation of testimonies of love as they (the families) know it, with what they’ve been given so far.

Five Easy Tips to Change the Way you Pray

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Praying every day can seem an ambitious task to undertake. We think it’s a practice better suited to those who have “time” like sisters, religious, priests… or our grandmothers. However, the Church tells us it’s actually meant for everyone because we are all called to holiness.

Holiness is built on a continuous friendship with God. That’s why saints are most known for their intense prayer life. They have come to know the One whom they desire to resemble most. Dom Chautard, a Trappist monk, once said that in order to sanctify the world, we must first sanctify ourselves. According to him, this begins with personal prayer.

I certainly don’t know everything when it comes to prayer – and I know very little about what it means to be a saint! But I wanted to share with you what’s helped me when it came to personal prayer time. This blog is really just the fruit of many conversations with friends or friendly priests, since we all desire to draw closer to Christ and we have all been met, one day or another, with challenges in prayer.

Desire prayer

This probably seems self-explanatory. In order to take time to pray, you sort of have to want it. There must first be a desire to stop what we’re doing, speak to God and listen to Him. The practice is simple and yet it is often the first thing we remove from our busy schedules (mea culpa!) There’s a reason why in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we are told that prayer is a “battle”. In order to win that battle, we can turn to the Holy Spirit for he “helps us in our weakness” (Romans 8:26). We can therefore ask him to give us the desire to pray even before we begin to pray.

Know who it is you encounter in prayer

“Mental prayer, in my opinion, is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us” – Saint Teresa of Avila. Prayer should never be laborious. It should be freely given in the same way we freely make time for our friends. Saint Augustine tells us that Christ is the first to “[seek] us and [ask] us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him”.

Choose a time

This is a big one. It’s easy to say “I will pray when I have time” but there are so many times I missed out on my prayer time because I failed to set aside a specific time in the day for it. A million different excuses arose to keep me from praying. Some people choose to pray at the same time every day, which is something I’ve tried to do myself. Waking up to pray each morning helps me prepare for the day even if it is such a struggle to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. That’s what saint Josemaria Escriva called the heroic minute.

“Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a fixed time, without yielding a single minute to laziness. If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day… The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and… up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body.”

But let’s be real, some of us are not morning people so praying in the morning might not be for you! Ask yourself, then, if there is a time in the day when you would be the most alert for prayer. Is it in the evening? At lunch time? If you go to Mass regularly, you could arrive a little earlier or stay a little longer to have some alone time with God. If you cannot pray at the same hour every day, you could choose at the beginning of the day when you will do it. I have often been counselled to be consistent with the length of the prayer as well. If it is 10, 15, 30 minutes or more, stay faithful to the hour and the length you have committed to. “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). Again, think of it as a meeting set up with a friend!

Choose a place

Finding a good spot to pray is the easy part. Churches and chapels are not the only places where prayer can happen. I have prayed on a bus, on a plane, or even in the middle of the campus cafeteria. Some are lucky enough to find a nice chapel near their place of work or home but we don’t all have this luxury. So we do with what we have, where we are. Perhaps it is sitting on the couch or sitting at your desk in your bedroom or while sipping on a cup of coffee. I’m easily distracted so I try to find the quietest space in my apartment, which isn’t always easy when you live downtown and the windows are wide open in the summertime…

But I know I cannot wait for the perfect conditions before beginning to pray. They will never perfect. Even if there was absolute silence, distractions would surface anyway. What does the time and place you choose for prayer say about your relationship with God? A friend asked me this once and it changed my whole outlook on prayer.

Finding what works for you
And now, where to begin? Here’s a brief “how to”. Sometimes I feel somewhat useless when I first set out to pray. I have to remember that prayer should be simple and that I don’t have to be “useful” in order to have a conversation with God. The only condition required for prayer is to make ourselves available in humility. Even beginning with the Our Father can kickstart the conversation.

“[Jesus] said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation” (Luke 11:2-4).

The Church offers us thousands of ways to draw nearer to God. There are the Liturgy of the Hours, Scripture and the Sacraments (receiving the Eucharist at Mass or adoration of the Blessed Sacrament), the Rosary, Lectio Divina (divine reading of Scripture), or going through a Living with Christ missal. But we have to be careful not to fill up our time with a list of things to do.

Prayer is a conversation in which there is a time to speak, to listen and to remain in silence. There will be times when nothing happens at all, when prayer seems empty and Scripture doesn’t speak to us, as though God had just disappeared. But Saint Paul tells us to persevere. Our willingness to remain there and be available, no matter what we may “feel” or not, is enough.

“The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for [us] according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27)


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Emilie Callan is a producer for Sel et Lumiere. Follow her on Twitter!

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for May 2016

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Join us in prayer for the intentions entrusted to us by Pope Francis. For March 2016, we join the Holy Father in praying for:

  • Respect for Women – That in every country of the world, women may be honored. 
  • Holy Rosary – That families, communities and groups may pray the Holy Rosary for evangelization and peace. 

Daily Offering Prayer
God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, Who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for the prayer intentions proposed by the Holy Father this month. Amen.

Traditional Daily Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. The Apostles of Prayer offer themselves to God each day for the good of the world, the Church, one another, and the Holy Father’s intentions.

Thank you for praying with us!

In a tradition that is centuries old, the Apostleship of Prayer publishes the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions. To become a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, you need only to offer yourself to God for his purposes each day. When you give God all the “prayers, works, joys and sufferings” of your day, you turn your entire day into a prayer for others. You are joining your will to God’s will. If you feel called to this simple, profound way of life, find out more at Apostleship of Prayer.


Caption: A woman prays in Cali, Colombia, in this April 13, 2014, file photo. (CNS photo/Christian Escobar Mora, EPA) See VATICAN-LETTER-WOMENS-DAY March 9, 2016.

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for April 2016

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Join us in prayer for the intentions entrusted to us by Pope Francis. For April 2016, we join the Holy Father in praying for:

  • Small Farmers – That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor. 

  • African Christians – That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.

Daily Offering Prayer
God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, Who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for the prayer intentions proposed by the Holy Father this month. Amen.

Traditional Daily Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. The Apostles of Prayer offer themselves to God each day for the good of the world, the Church, one another, and the Holy Father’s intentions.

Thank you for praying with us!

In a tradition that is centuries old, the Apostleship of Prayer publishes the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions. To become a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, you need only to offer yourself to God for his purposes each day. When you give God all the “prayers, works, joys and sufferings” of your day, you turn your entire day into a prayer for others. You are joining your will to God’s will. If you feel called to this simple, profound way of life, find out more at Apostleship of Prayer.

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for March 2016

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Join us in prayer for the intentions entrusted to us by Pope Francis. For March 2016, we join the Holy Father in praying for:

  • Families in Difficulty – That families in need may receive the necessary support and that children may grow up in a healthy and peaceful environments. 
  • Persecuted Christians – That those Christians who, on account of their faith, are discriminated against or are being persecuted, may remain strong and faithful to the Gospel, thanks to the incessant prayer of the Church. 

Daily Offering Prayer
God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, Who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for the prayer intentions proposed by the Holy Father this month. Amen.

Traditional Daily Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. The Apostles of Prayer offer themselves to God each day for the good of the world, the Church, one another, and the Holy Father’s intentions.

Thank you for praying with us!

In a tradition that is centuries old, the Apostleship of Prayer publishes the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions. To become a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, you need only to offer yourself to God for his purposes each day. When you give God all the “prayers, works, joys and sufferings” of your day, you turn your entire day into a prayer for others. You are joining your will to God’s will. If you feel called to this simple, profound way of life, find out more at Apostleship of Prayer.

Caption: Quinn Washington and her children pose for a family photo Feb. 16 in their new home in Lorain, Ohio. The family lives at what is considered the extreme poverty level. After Washington lost her job in 2014, they faced months of surviving on virtually no income and having to sleep in the family vehicle, shelters and later a motel. (CNS photo/William Rieter)

Pope Francis’ Prayer Intentions for February 2016

CreationPrayer

Join us in prayer for the intentions entrusted to us by Pope Francis. For February 2016, we join the Holy Father in praying for:

  • Care for Creation – That we may take good care of creation–a gift freely given–cultivating and protecting it for future generations. 
  • Asia – That opportunities may increase for dialogue and encounter between the Christian faith and the peoples of Asia. 

Daily Offering Prayer
God, our Father, I offer You my day. I offer You my prayers, thoughts, words, actions, joys, and sufferings in union with the Heart of Jesus, who continues to offer Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit, Who guided Jesus, be my guide and my strength today so that I may witness to your love. With Mary, the mother of our Lord and the Church, I pray for all Apostles of Prayer and for the prayer intentions proposed by the Holy Father this month. Amen.

Traditional Daily Offering of the Apostleship of Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. The Apostles of Prayer offer themselves to God each day for the good of the world, the Church, one another, and the Holy Father’s intentions.

Thank you for praying with us!

In a tradition that is centuries old, the Apostleship of Prayer publishes the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions. To become a member of the Apostleship of Prayer, you need only to offer yourself to God for his purposes each day. When you give God all the “prayers, works, joys and sufferings” of your day, you turn your entire day into a prayer for others. You are joining your will to God’s will. If you feel called to this simple, profound way of life, find out more at Apostleship of Prayer.

The Duty and Obligation of being Pro-Life

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What does it mean to be pro-life?

To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. There can be no true peace unless life is defended and promoted. Remember the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI:

Every crime against life is an attack on peace, especially if it strikes at the moral conduct of people…But where human rights are truly professed and publicly recognized and defended, peace becomes the joyful and operative climate of life in society.

Abortion is without a doubt the most serious wound inflicted not only on individuals and their families who should provide the sanctuary for life, but inflicted as well on society and its culture, by the very people who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders. We must never lose sight of the atrocities against the unborn, the untold and too-seldom spoken of pain and lingering anguish experienced by those who have been involved in abortions.

I know about the tragedy of abortion and I know about the good work of many people involved in the pro-life Movement who work hard to prevent this tragedy. However a singular focus on abortion as the arbiter of what it means to be “pro-life” has severely narrowed our national discourse about moral values in the public square. People claiming to be fervently Catholic, always right, and blinded by their own zeal and goodness, have ended up defeating the very cause for which we must all defend with every ounce of energy in our flesh and bones. Their anger vitiates their efforts.

Could it be that some of us are turned off or even repelled by current definitions or behaviors of some of those people claiming to be pro-life, yet manifesting a tunnel vision? The Roman Catholic Church offers a consistent teaching on the inviolability, the sacredness and the dignity of the human person: a 20/20 vision for which we must strive each day if we claim to be pro-life. Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. We must strive to see the whole picture, not with tunnel vision.

What is also troubling are those who claim to be on the “left”, always championing human and civil rights, respecting and upholding the dignity and freedom of others. This of course has included the protection of individual rights, and the efforts of government to care for the weak, sick and disadvantaged. Why then are the extension to the unborn of the human right to life, and opposition to the culture of death, not central issues on the “left?” They must be, for they are clearly matters of justice and human rights.

A few years ago, Cardinal Séan O’Malley wrote to the people of Boston with these words:

If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us… Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other.

We cannot ignore the other great challenge faced by humanity today–the serious question of mercy killing, or euthanasia as it is sometimes called, no longer found in abstract cases and theories. It concerns ordinary people and is debated not only in Parliament but also around dinner tables and in classrooms. Aging populations, especially in the west, and resulting smaller workforces are now creating a market push towards euthanasia. As Pope John Paul II wrote: “a right to die will inevitably give way to the duty to die.” This issue strikes to the very core of who we are and what we believe. Even when not motivated by the refusal to be burdened with the life of someone who is suffering, euthanasia must be called a false and misguided mercy. True compassion leads to sharing another’s pain, not killing the person whose suffering we cannot bear.

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Furthering the Common Good

Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the dignity of the human person such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself, whatever insults human dignity such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, disgraceful working conditions where people are treated as instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons… all of these things and more poison human society.

It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. There can be no true peace unless life is defended and promoted.

In Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, (Truth in Charity), the Holy Father addresses clearly the dignity and respect for human life:

Openness to life is at the centre of true development… When a society moves toward the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity toward the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.

Engaging the Culture Around Us

Being pro-life does not give us the right and license to say and do whatever we wish, to malign, condemn and destroy other human beings who do not share our views. We must never forget the principles of civility, Gospel charity, ethics, and justice. Jesus came to engage the culture of his day, and we must engage the culture of our day. We must avoid the sight impairment and myopia that often afflict people of good will who are blinded by their own zeal and are unable to see the whole picture. Being pro-life is not an activity for a political party or a particular side of the spectrum. It is an obligation for everyone: left, right and centre! If we are pro-life, we must engage the culture around us, and not curse it. We must see others as Jesus does, and we must love them to life, even those who are opposed to us. Being pro-life in this day and age is truly prophetic, and it will bring about authentic development and enduring peace in our world.

We are all invited pray these words each day, especially during this week:

LupitaEternal Father, Source of Life, strengthen us with your Holy Spirit to receive the abundance of life you have promised.
Open our hearts to see and desire the beauty of your plan for life and love.
Make our love generous and self-giving so that we may be blessed with joy.
Grant us great trust in your mercy.
Forgive us for not receiving your gift of life and heal us from the effects of the culture of death.
Instill in us and all people reverence for every human life.
Inspire and protect our efforts on behalf of those most vulnerable especially the unborn, the sick and the elderly.
We ask this in the Name of Jesus, who by His Cross makes all things new. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Father Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation

(CNS photo/Bob Roller)
(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Deacon-structing Ecumenism

Ecumenical-groupTomorrow is the beginning of the Week for Prayer for Christian Unity. This special week has been taking place for almost 110 years and is celebrated around the world between the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter on January 18 and the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul on January 25. It’s very simple: We join with people around the world to pray for Christian unity – in worship, reflection, study, and fellowship.

But, Christian unity is not something that should be left for just one week a year; it is something that we should be praying for, and living every day.

Ecumenism is the movement promoting unity among Christian churches or denominations. The word refers to the “representation of the entire (Christian) world,” as it comes from the Latin oecumenicus, meaning “general” or “universal.” The Latin actually comes from the Greek oikoumenikos, which is a word that referred to “the inhabited world” as known to the ancient Greeks. (For those of you who love words and etymology, this comes from oikoumenos, which is the present passive participle of oikein, which means  “inhabit,” which in turn comes from oikos, which is “house” or “habitation.”)

I wish more parishes and Christian congregations would do more to build relations with each other. When I was in the Middle East, working on Living Stones in 2013, I was humbled at how the Melkites, the Greek Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Protestants and Anglicans have no issue praying together, and in certain circumstances worshiping together. In fact, over there, they don’t refer to themselves as “Catholic” or “Lutheran” or “Copt” or “Maronite.” They’re all “Christians.” Isn’t that what Jesus prayed for according to John 17:20?

As an aside, this year, as Christians are being encouraged by Pope Francis to sponsor refugees, three  churches in my community of Bradford, Ontario have come together to sposor a Syrian family. The United, Anglican and Catholic congregations have created BRIDG: Bradford Refugee Inter-Denominational Group. We hope that this is one of many activities we can work on together.

If you’re wondering what your plan for Christian unity can be, you should visit the Canadian Council of Churches. You will find all kinds of wonderful resources to get you on your way to practical ecumenism.

This year’s theme is “Called to proclaim the mighty acts of God” (from 1 Peter 2:9) and was developed and chosen for the whole world by the church in Latvia.

Ecumenism, or the work of Christian unity predates Vatican II. Since the beginning, Christians have been sorting out what Jesus meant when He prayed, “may they all be one.” But, Vatican II put out a Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio. It is a great document that I encourage you to read:

All the faithful should remember that the more effort they make to live holier lives according to the Gospel, the better will they further Christian unity and put it into practice. For the closer their union with the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, the more deeply and easily will they be able to grow in mutual brotherly love.

This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name, “spiritual ecumenism”.

Let me leave you with a thought: Ecumenism requires conversion. For all of us. We may not know what Jesus wanted when He prayed that we all would be one, and we may not know God’s plan for ecumenism, but we do know that we are called to be the Church that Christ founded and intended.

And so we pray:

God, from whom life flows in rich diversity, unite us in love. May we be mindful of Christ as the source of our life together and strive to build up your Kingdom of love. We pray in the unity of the Spirit.

May we all be one.

Watch some of our programs on Ecumenism:
Perspectives Weekly: Ecumenical Update 2016
Perspectives Weekly: What is God’s Plan for Ecumenism?
Perspectives Weekly: What Does Christian Unity Look Like?
Perspectives Weekly: How Do you Live Ecumenism?


Photo Credit: Cardinal Seán O’Malley, OFM Cap. of Boston gathers with Christian leaders at an Ecumenical service during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2014. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)


DcnPedro

Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:pedro@saltandlighttv.org